Local cricket fans will soon be treated to a tour by the celebrated Marylebone Cricket Club.
Captained by Roland Horridge, the London-based team will include the likes of former Test player Gavin Hamilton and several former first-class players, including Stephen Henderson and Matthew Friedlander. MCC will also bring experienced umpire John Holder to pass on tips.
MCC is one the world’s oldest cricket clubs, founded in 1787, based at the acknowledged home of the sport, Lord’s Cricket Ground in St. John’s Wood. Steeped in cricket history and tradition, MCC was formerly the sport’s governing body in England and Wales, as well as worldwide.
Horridge, 50, said: “I have never been to the Caymans before. As someone in the departure lounge of his cricket career, I’m looking forward to visiting a new country – by all account a beautiful one – in a different part of the world, meeting some new people and having the privilege of representing the MCC and playing cricket at the same time.
“We haven’t toured The Caymans since 2003. We would normally make a return visit much earlier, and I have no idea why we have not been back within that time frame.
“The MCC tour’s subcommittee selects touring destinations that will ensure the touring programme meets its long-standing objectives for the basic fundamentals of MCC touring; spreading the cricketing word, undertaking coaching clinics, making friends, competing in matches and above all providing a touring programme that assists cricketing development in the host nation.
“I been lucky to have been an MCC member for 21 years, this will be my ninth tour or trip and my third as captain.
“I have been lucky enough to play cricket in many places around the world including Fiji, Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa, Holland and many others, so any time you travel to play cricket, especially for the MCC is a great highlight in your career.”
As a young man, Horrige played county second XI cricket for Lancashire, then captained the Lancashire Cricket Board X1 for seven years.
“My club side in UK is Chorley, who play in the Northern League, one of the largest Premier Leagues in Lancashire,” he said.
“In the mid-90s we had a very good team and managed to get to the National Club Championship Final, played at Lords three times in succession, winning the first two.
“There are about 600 teams who enter the competition at the start of the season, so we were very fortunate to be successful.
“There aren’t any lows when you play cricket, unless you get out first ball or drop a catch or the body breaks down, which at my age does happen!”
The tourists arrive on 16 April and have a full itinerary from the following day when they coach local talented youths at the Smith Road Oval in George Town.
There is a welcome party at Stingers bar at the Comfort Suites Hotel that evening.
Their first match is on 18 April against a Governor’s XI at the Smith Road Oval lasting 30 overs, which starts at 1pm.
There is more youth coaching the following day then another match on 20 April against a President’s XI at the Jimmy Powell Oval in West Bay, starting 12.30pm and lasting 40 overs.
The next day it’s a 50-over game against the Cayman national side, again at the Jimmy Powell Oval, starting 11am.
The Village Greenies are one of Cayman’s best organised and longest established clubs. Mainly made up of expats, especially Brits, Greenies get an envious chance to play MCC on 23 April at Smith Road from 12.30pm in a 40 over game.
Cricket’s 20 over format has become the most appealing for spectators and players alike in recent years and that will provide some spectacular action when the MCC take on a select side at Smith Road on 24 April.
The visitors’ final match is in a 40-over game against the national team at the Jimmy Powell Oval from 12.30pm on 25 April.
So it will be a short but busy tour for Marylebone Cricket Club and will certainly go far too quickly for the local cricket community who do not get to see former top level players in action here often.
Local players like Marlon Bryan, Ricardo Roach, Darren Cato, Kervin Ebanks, Omar Willis and Zachary McLaughlin, who all aspire to play at pro level, will treat this visit as a steep learning curve.
Theo Cuffy is technical director of the Cayman Islands Cricket Association. He said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us.
“MCC travels on a yearly basis to extend its experiences and we’re very fortunate that they are coming here.
“This provides a number of opportunities for us to develop by playing former international players. It won’t just be our national players who get the chance either, a wide cross-section of locals will also have the opportunity to play them.
“The fact that they will be giving coaching tips too helps and also the clinics for the youngsters.
“This will be a tremendous boost to our development.”
MCC president Mike Griffith said: “The destination of MCC overseas tours is constantly under discussion, with criteria ultimately centring on where the club can assist with the development of the game and spread the MCC Spirit of Cricket message to a new audience.
“The Cayman Islands has been carefully identified as an area which will benefit from one of our tours.
“It has done a good job developing the game across the nation and I am hopeful that MCC’s visit will provide a positive contribution to this ongoing work.”
Horridge is looking forward to the matches in Cayman.
“Hopefully, we can provide some competitive and worthwhile opposition to the teams we play against,” he said.
“If, when we leave our hosts feel that the tour has been of benefit to them also, that will be a worthwhile legacy.
“It is important MCC does whatever it can to help smaller cricket nations in their quest to improve within the International Cricket Council structure.”